Trip report - BWI Hotel and diving Jan 2006

38 room 3* beachside hotel in Batteaux Bay at Speyside (listing)
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Chrissie Teall

Trip report - BWI Hotel and diving Jan 2006

Post by Chrissie Teall »

This is quite long, hopefully the detail will be useful to anyone planning a trip to the Speyside area.
My partner and I travelled with BA from London to Tobago via Antigua and stayed at the Blue Waters Inn from 14th – 23rd January 2006.
Our main reason for choosing the BWI was its proximity to the great Speyside dive sites, and also its peaceful and beautiful location.
The flights were fairly uneventful, and reasonably on time.
We were met by our taxi driver, Andy, who we had asked the hotel to pre-book. We became quite friendly with him during our stay – he took us on a tour round the island and on a trip to the Waterfall as well as the return journey to the airport, his rates for trips were much better than tour rates quoted at the hotel as these are per person, he only charged for his time and the petrol. He was a safe driver but maybe just a little too precious about his car – he was not keen to drive down any unmade roads.
Accommodation - we had a first floor room which was clean and airy and had a huge king size bed, also a balcony which we didn’t use much as the view was totally obscured by trees! There was aircon and a ceiling fan in the room, we only used the aircon to cool the room for half an hour or so in the evening, otherwise the fan was sufficient. There was no hairdryer, fridge, telephone, tv, or room service, which we knew when we booked – of these, we would only have desired the fridge – there was a full ice bucket left every day when the room was cleaned though. We had a few problems with the room – broken shower curtain rail, no clothes hangers, no towels, and fluctuations in water power (sometimes no water at all) and temperature. However, once mentioned to the front desk, these items were all sorted out very promptly, and did not impair our enjoyment of the holiday at all. The hotel is set in beautiful gardens with flowering trees and bushes which attract the various bird species for which the island is famous – there were lots of serious bird watchers in residence or passing through during our stay. All rooms face the sea and are virtually on the beach, in fact the noise of the waves breaking takes some getting used to at night.
Staff - we found them to be quite shy at first, but friendly if you start a conversation, and we came to know several of the waitresses, barmen and dive centre staff quite well by the time we left. Service in the restaurants we found to be usually prompt and efficient. Duane, the manager, was very much in evidence and was keen to either offer advice to sort out any problems.
Food – breakfast was a la carte in the restaurant, a buffet would have been better, or at least an earlier start – they don’t take orders until 8am. Free hot drinks are available all day. The meals in the Shipwreck bar were great, with burgers, sandwiches, salads and grills always on offer if you arrived outside the restaurant hours, or just wanted a snack, and there were local dishes available most days. The cocktail menu was impressive too, and we had several ‘barman’s specials’ prepared for us where we had to guess the ingredients! Friday night was good (don’t know if they do this every week), with free punch or wine and freshly made fish snacks and popcorn, then a grill menu in the restaurant followed by a steel band.
The main restaurant could do with some livening up, the menu is quite limited if you’re staying more than a couple of days. Sometimes the listed ‘soup of the day’ and ‘dessert of the day’ didn’t even exist! We did eat out in Speyside, at Jema’s Treehouse the food was good but as there is no menu you don’t know how much everything is - we found it quite expensive when coming to pay, but it’s difficult to challenge when there are no prices written down. Also, the waitress was quite rude – when we had finished our main course, she told us there was ‘no more food’ and promptly cleared the table (it was only 8pm!). At the Speyside Inn, where we ate twice, the menu was varied and the food was excellent, although the service was a bit slow.
Facilities – There is no pool, but the hotel is right on the beach. What it does lack is space for sunbathing. There are so many fallen or leaning trees that a sunny spot is hard to find – the beach really narrow and at high tide there is barely any room to sit. Not that it’s crowded, as the beach is more or less exclusive to the hotel, and most days the clientele are bird watching, diving or sightseeing. Swimming and snorkelling are good for the experienced adult, but the beach shelves quite steeply and the currents can be strong, so I wouldn’t recommend it for young children. Also look out for the sand flies – everyone seemed to have legs covered in bites. Clean beach towels are always available, and there are several showers on the beach.
Dive Centre – The staff here initially seemed very uninterested in taking us out, and it was hard work to drum up any enthusiasm for the first couple of days. However, once we got to know them it was better, we teamed up with 2 other divers and the 4 of us went out most days. They notionally have 4 dive times, 9:30am, 10:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, but in reality they dive at 9:30 if someone turns up, then again at 11:30 if you’re keen. They don’t like to dive after lunch unless really pushed. It was quiet while we were there, admittedly, so maybe there are more times on offer when they’re busy. In all, we didn’t complete as many dives as we would have liked (17 between us), as it was very windy – several divers were being sick because of the swell for the first few days, and at the end of the holiday it was blowing a gale so was very choppy and the visibility was poor. The staff were very competent, and did their best to offer us a variety of sites despite the weather conditions. We dived at some really good sites - eg Black Jack Hole, Runway, Bookends, Japanese Gardens, Back Garden (my personal favourite), Spiney Colony, Cathedral. We didn't see anything spectacular - the visibility wasn't good enough to spot anything much in the 'blue', but did see a couple of reef sharks, a turtle, barracuda, tarpon etc.

All in all, it was a good holiday, yes we would definitely return to Tobago, it's a beautiful island, I wouldn’t object to staying at the BWI again, but would maybe choose a hotel/B&B in a nearby village and hire a car, to give more eating and transport options.
My partner took loads of photos, will hopefully be able to post some soon.

Mark Steggall

Post by Mark Steggall »

Only a short but delightful visit, the garden bungalows were quite lovely if a little expensive. The food and variety was good but not of international standards. A very pretty sheltered beach mostly shadey in the afternoon.

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